Neoceptors: reengineering GPCRs to recognize tailored ligands

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2007 Mar;28(3):111-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2007 Feb 5.


Efforts to model and reengineer the putative binding sites of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have led to an approach that combines small-molecule 'classical' medicinal chemistry and gene therapy. In this approach, complementary structural changes (e.g. based on novel ionic or H-bonds) are made in the receptor and ligand for the selective enhancement of affinity. Thus, a modified receptor (neoceptor) is designed for activation by tailor-made agonists that do not interact with the native receptor. The neoceptor is no longer activated by the native agonist, but rather functions as a scaffold for the docking of novel small molecules (neoligands). In theory, the approach could verify the accuracy of GPCR molecular modeling, the investigation of signaling, the design of small molecules to rescue disease-related mutations, and small-molecule-directed gene therapy. The neoceptor-neoligand pairing could offer spatial specificity by delivering the neoceptor to a target site, and temporal specificity by administering neoligand when needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Ligands*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / agonists*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled